‘They Are Afraid Of Women’ – Malala Makes Stunning U.N. Speech On 16th Birthday (VIDEO)

'Extremists showed what they fear most: a girl with a book.' - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about Malala Yousafzai. Image a screenshot  @ Slate

‘Extremists showed what they fear most: a girl with a book.’ – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about Malala Yousafzai. Image a screenshot @ Slate

What did you do on your 16th birthday? Most of us either had slumber parties, held a “Sweet 16” dance, or took a memorable destination trip with our parents. Malala Yousafzai, just nine months after being shot in the head by Taliban soldiers ordered to kill her for her efforts to educate Pakistani girls, celebrated her 16th birthday by standing up before the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York and, in her very first public remarks, made a 17:42-minute long statement of gratitude, wisdom and advocation for the rights of children around the world, particularly girls, to get a free education. From The Guardian:

Speaking to a delegation of more than 500 young people, Malala said: “On the night of 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought the bullet would silence us, but they failed.”

She criticised the Taliban for their interpretation of Islam in their attack on girls’ education. “They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits,” she said.

Malala called for women around the world to be “brave” in their struggle to fight back. “Let us arm ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness,” Malala said.

Listening to her gentle but assured voice, it is almost impossible to reconcile this remarkable young women of such self-possession and intelligence with the fact of her youth and the life she’s endured – so far – in her 16 short years. At an age when most girls are focused on pop stars, fashion, and giggling texts about boys, Malala has survived a horrific injury and defied her attackers to step into the role of peace activist, feminist, and educational advocate. It is a role likely no one can match. Continuing from The Guardian:

She delivered her remarks from a raised platform and said she was wearing a shawl belonging to the late Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto.

“Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions injured, I am just one of them,” Malala said. “So here I stand, here I stand, just one girl among many.”

She said she was at the UN to speak for the education of every child and that she believes peace is necessary for education. “This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone,” she said.

“So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favor of peace and prosperity,” Malala said. She then called on all governments to offer free education, to fight against terrorism and protect children from violence. “We are really tired of these wars,” she said.

Malala called on women to take up the fight, and not expect men to do it for them. “I am focusing on women’s rights and education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women asked men to stand up for their rights, but this time we will do it for ourselves.”

Not one to marginalize, however, she further commented that she’s not looking to exclude men from the struggle, but, in fact, encouraged them continue working for the cause of girls and women; she just accentuated that women need to be empowered themselves to demand their rights, freedoms and safety in the world.

Surely the issue of global education for girls and women is a priority for many. Malala has made this her mission and, in that effort, has set up a site for The Malala Fund, where those interested can offer donations towards the cause. Interestingly, she makes a point of stating that, “We scrutinize every investment and track its progress and impact,” clearly an acknowledgement of both the sometimes murky trail international donations can travel and her group’s assurances that they will make certain the funds go exactly where they were intended: to the educational sites and resources in support of her mission.

As for her birthday, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, declared the day, July 12, to be “Malala Day.” As she stood in front of the U.N. crowd in her bright pink head scarf and shirt, she concluded her speech with a plea to all listening to “wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy,” exemplifying the insightful comment Ban Ki-moon made about her: the Taliban “showed what they fear most: a girl with a book.”

The full video of her speech is below. To read the full transcript, click HERE:

Here is the video:

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